While people in Hong Kong are fervidly looking forward to seeing
the new giant panda pairs presented by the central government of
China as a gift in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the
city's return to the motherland, animal keepers at Hong Kong Ocean
Park give the utmost attention to the national treasures for their
Starting his career as an animal caretaker at Ocean Park about
27 years ago, Paul Ng Nai Kwong, now the animal behavior and
enrichment manager, has his experience of keeping giant pandas
piled up from 1999 when Hong Kong got its first pair, "An An" and
"Jia Jia," from the central government.
"Before that, we didn't have any experience of taking care of
giant pandas and we began from zero," Ng told Xinhua in a recent
interview. He said that it was a great challenge for the park, yet
he felt extremely happy and exciting because "that was the first
time Hong Kong has its own pandas permanently."
At that time, Ng and his colleagues were sent to Wolong in
southwest China's Sichuan Province, where "An An" and "Jia Jia"
came from, to learn panda keeping skills.
In order to get a clear picture of the living habits of "An An"
and "Jia Jia", they took turns to observe the pandas in the outdoor
even in cold and windy days.
Eight years' experience of panda keeping has made Ocean Park
more proficient in taking care of the new cubs. "Having the
experience of keeping 'An An' and 'Jia Jia,' we are confident that
'Ying Ying' and 'Le Le' (the new pair) will get use to the new
environment soon," said Ng.
Upon their arrival on April 26, the new cubs were transferred
straight to the park's panda house which is temporarily closed.
After the 30-day quarantine, they have been doing well and are now
having another 30 days of accommodating period.
"'Jia Jia' cares about having contact with people, it's not just
food alone that can attract her attention, and for 'Le Le', he's a
fussy eater having preference for sweet food like apples," Ng was
delighted when telling those panda stories which fully revealed his
love and care towards the animals.
During the interview, Ng mentioned time and again the importance
of maintaining good relationship with animals which he believes is
the key to successful training, which will in turn, lead to the
healthy growth of the animals.
Giant pandas also gained affection from the public. "Some years
ago, a panda mania couple went to the panda house with their
digital cameras every morning and stayed until closing," Ng said,
the couple kept visiting for about half a year.
At an activity that allowed people chances to learn to take care
of animals at the park, Ng met an elderly participant who insisted
on laying the bamboo for the giant pandas all by himself even
though he had difficulties in walking.
"He wanted very much to taste how it was like to take care of
pandas and to express his care to them, it was so touching," Ng
The Panda blog set up by the park for "Ying Ying" and "Le Le" is
another proof of the pandas' popularity. It attracted tons of
visitors to browse through and to leave their words asking about
the pandas' latest situation.
It has been 10 years since Hong Kong's return to the motherland.
As a member of the public, Ng was happy to see the central
government showing concern about the city's development and he felt
honored to be the keeper of giant pandas.
"I'm in the hope that 'Ying Ying' and 'Le Le' may give birth to
baby pandas in the future which imply Hong Kong's prosperity," said
(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2007)